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Dedication to kids' health honored

June 15, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

When Linda Humbert became the director of community health nursing at the Washington County Health Department in 1975, she knew that meeting the needs of schoolchildren would be high on her list.

And indeed Humbert has worked tirelessly to see that school health in Washington County is second to none.

Recently her efforts were rewarded when Humbert received the Dr. John M. Krager annual leadership award from the Maryland State School Health Council.

It was given in recognition of her outstanding contributions to promotion of school health in Maryland for 1998, according to the plaque.

Krager, now deceased, was an administrator of school health programs in Baltimore. One award is given in his name each year.

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Humbert heads a 72-person staff at the Washington County Health Department, which is dedicated to school health.

"Now each school has a school health assistant on site who is trained in first aid and CPR," Humbert said. "That aide is there whenever kids are there."

In addition, a registered nurse is assigned to a group of schools known as a cluster, traveling between those schools to handle medication orders, special health needs and holding meetings to plan health programs.

"Those nurses make sure that children's immunizations are taken care of and provide skilled treatments," Humbert said.

That might include giving insulin to diabetic children, teaching them how to do it themselves or even changing a dressing on a wound, she said.

"Children with special needs are mainstreamed in this county so we have to be able to provide care," Humbert said.

The 1997-98 school year was the first in which all schools were covered. The only exception was the Outdoor School near Clear Spring, she said.

The money for these programs comes from the Washington County Commissioners.

Humbert said she and her staff have fought hard for this upgrade in medical care in schools.

"The state Board of Education and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene passed a mandate that there had to be one in each school, but they provided no money," Humbert said.

She credited Jim Lemmert, now retired from the Washington County Pupil Personnel office, and the late Dr. John Neill, former health officer, for finding the funds.

The benefits of this umbrella are more alertness to problems, such as pregnant teens, drug and alcohol use, and other things that affect youngsters, Humbert said.

"We did a study on adolescents and we work with people who work with youth," Humbert said. "The next stage is parents and kids ... we're not sure how to go about that yet."

A native of Howard County, Humbert holds a bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of Maryland. She earned a master's degree in public health at the University of Minnesota.

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